The 3 Questions Every Employee Should Be Able to Answer—But Usually Can’t

I have a work question for you: 

What’s your role, and how does it contribute to your organization? 

I once arrived for an engagement at a company and got permission to walk around the office and chat with employees. 

What I discovered was disheartening, though not surprising. Almost no one could answer the most basic questions about their company’s strategy.

It struck me that the top leaders may have been very clear on the company’s purpose, mission, and vision, but they weren’t translating any of that to the rest of the organization. There was a clear disconnect. 

And the truth is: None of that high-level thinking matters if leaders can’t create the organizational alignment necessary to execute it.

Thankfully, three powerful—yet simple!—questions can help determine that alignment:

1. Who is our future customer? What is our vision of what the future will look like and who will be serving? What are their needs?

2. What is our strategy to meet their needs? What choices must we make today to get to where we want to be in the future? What will we do – and not do?

3. How am I contributing to our success? How are my actions helping us achieve our strategy?

Go ahead, ask them of your employees. Everyone in your organization should be able to answer them.

If they stumble or if the responses are scattered, you know you’ve got your work cut out for you. 

But when all team members know the answers to these questions, you know you are aligned in your mission and purpose—and that you’re poised to take on disruption.

Real talk: Can you answer these questions for yourself right now?

— Charlene

What I Can’t Stop Talking About: 

  • The future of superintelligence is … cyborgs? I was intrigued by Alice Albrecht’s essay, “The Case for Cyborgs,” which lays out why the current generation of AI will peter out and that what’s required is augmentation, not replacement, of human intelligence. This stood out for me: “Humans are imbued with the innate ability to learn language and seek out human connection, but they aren’t born with an understanding of their environments—instead, they are powerful learners. This ability to learn allows us to flourish wherever we may be. In part, the human race is incredibly resilient because we never lose our ability to learn and change.” Imagine if we could augment that natural ability to learn with AI. Chip me already!

  • The importance of teaching wisdom versus knowledge. Today’s schools pump kids with information for a test or have them memorize multiplication tables and state capitals when we should be helping them develop critical thinking and analytical skills—competencies they’ll need in the workplace. And let’s face it: Considering they’ll likely spend the next 60 years of their lives working, their education needs to last them just as long. Let’s teach them how to be wise, not “smart.”

  • How likely execs are to enroll in an AI course. After a new study revealed just 4 percent of employees across their organizations use generative AI, I posted a poll to my followers to see where they stood. More than half said they are very likely to enroll in a generative AI course. If you’re an executive, I can’t recommend the course, “Navigating Generative AI: A CEO Playbook,” from Coursera enough!  

My Latest: 

  • Job anxiety in the era of AI. I’ve fielded a lot of concerns recently about the impact of generative AI on jobs, and it’s clear that people are worried. Watch my latest livestream or read my LinkedIn newsletter for my advice on how to address—and, more importantly, ease—employee concerns.

  • Why HR needs a seat at the AI table. One of the biggest implications of AI is how it transforms the way we do our work, and that includes people, which inevitably involves human resources. In Leading Disruption, I explain what AI can do for HR and how Chief People Officers can make the most of those benefits. 

  • Q&A with Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda. If you’ve ever taken an online course, you likely have my friend Jeff to thank! I’m thrilled to talk to him tomorrow about how he leverages AI as a leader—and how you can, too. To join the conversation, tune in to my next livestream on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET on LinkedIn and Facebook Live.

  • Participate in a research survey. In gathering insights for my upcoming book on generative AI, I’ve found that standard-issue surveys don’t dig deep enough, and traditional interviews are too complicated to pull off at scale. I’m now using AI-moderated surveys hosted by Outset and would love for you to see how it works. If you’re familiar with what how your organization is using AI, take the survey! (Your organization needs to have revenues of at least $100 million to participate in the survey.)  

My Upcoming Appearances:

Thank you for subscribing to the Disruption Dispatch, which goes out to thousands of disruptors every other week to help you on your disruption journey—plus a curated recommendation list of a few Good Things I’m enjoying. 

Want more? Check out my weekly publication, Leading Disruption, on LinkedIn.

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Charlene Li

If you found this note helpful, please forward and share it with someone who needs the inspiration today. If you were forwarded this, please consider subscribing.